SANTIAGO – The State Defense Council dismissed 22 eye injury victims’ allegations of police brutality during the estallido social. The council also deemed compensation for the victims “disproportionate.” The 32-page document also argues that it’s unfair for perpetrators to publicly apologize for their actions.
The State Defense Council (CDE), the entity that defends the fiscal interests of the country, rejected arguments presented by attorneys from human rights NGO Libertades Públicas, which seek reparations for victims of eye injuries sustained after the social uprising on Oct. 18, 2019. The lawsuit demands compensation of CLP$7 billion (US$9.7 million) for the injured parties, which would be given to those who suffered total vision loss and those who sustained considerable eye trauma. CDE head Juan Antonio Peribonio criticized the lawsuit and called the compensation figure “disproportionate.” The CDE also defended police actions during protests, La Tercera reported.
According to the complaint, on behalf of 22 victims aged 18 to 34, the state, through its national police (Carabineros) special forces “used brutal force” and neglected national and international law. The CDE disagrees, asserting that the police “acted correctly, abiding by their faculties and with the necessary proportional intensity in the context of the attacks to which the institution’s workers were subjected to.” The CDE’s 32-page response does admit that “in some cases the reaction by police officers was not lawful,” but it asserts that this only occurred in a very limited number of instances which aren’t part of the case.
A report by the National Human Rights Institute (INDH) claims that a total of 352 people were partially or completely blinded by police violence.
While victims claim that police fired shots at them without distinguishing between peaceful and violent events, the CDE claims that riot guns and tear gas were justified by the “vandalism and violence incidents.” The entity asserts that, “contrary to the allegations by the plaintiffs, we are not in the presence of peaceful protests, the reality was totally different, and it was dominated by aggression and violence.”
The CDE also points to the facts that the use of these guns is commonplace for civil unrest and that police in Hong Kong, France, Egypt, Spain, and other countries use them.
Addressing the rubber bullets that the police had used, the CDE alleged that other international police forces used them, too, including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, France, Mexico, Panama, the United States, and Venezuela.
One of the plaintiff-side demands is that the Carabineros issue a public statement in at least two high-circulation national newspapers apologizing for the eye injuries. The CDE called the demand “unfair” and said that “it lacks any legal foundations.”
Francisco is finishing his degree in Journalism at Universidad Finis Terrae in Santiago.